Denton: Magic Score Big in ESPN Rankings

By John Denton
June 20, 2011


ORLANDO – When it opened last October, Orlando’s Amway Center was widely hailed as the finest arena not only in the NBA, but in all of North America. And largely because of the dazzling new facility – not to mention the game-day promotions and friendly, accessible environment – the Orlando Magic’s overall stadium experience was lauded recently by ESPN The Magazine.

ESPN’s ninth annual Ultimate Standings ranked the Magic’s stadium experience the best in the NBA and fifth overall among all teams from the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA. The Magic beat out Portland, Memphis, Chicago, San Antonio and Dallas for top honors in the NBA. They trailed only the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco Giants, Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Penguins in overall stadium experience among all professional teams.

The Magic continued to score well in the overall rankings and continue to be one of the best franchises in all major sports when it comes to serving their fans.

The Magic ranked as the 16th best franchise overall and fourth best in the NBA when it comes to measuring how much a franchise gives back to fans in exchange for the time and money that they invest. The rankings were devised based on factors such as bang for the buck, fan relations, ownership, affordability, stadium experience, players, coaching and being on track to win a championship.

The Magic continued to earn high marks in several key categories – bang for the buck (fifth among NBA teams), fan relations (sixth among NBA teams), affordability (seventh among NBA teams), stadium experience (first among NBA teams), ownership (seventh among NBA teams), players (12th in the NBA), coaching (ninth in the NBA) and being on a title track (ninth in the NBA).

The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers won the overall award – one in which the Magic were ranked second a year ago. The San Antonio Spurs were the highest ranked NBA team in the overall standings, ranking fifth this year.

The high marks for the Magic continued what has been a banner year for the franchise. Earlier this year, the Magic were named a finalist in the Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily’s annual Sports Business Awards in the categories of ``Sports Team of the Year’’ and ``Sports Facility of the Year.’’ It was the first time in the history of the franchise that the Magic have been named finalists for either of the two awards. The Sports Business Awards annually recognize excellence and outstanding achievement in the business of sports.

Much of the acclaim for the franchise came as a result of the opening of the dazzling new Amway Center, which was almost instantly referred to as the finest arena in the NBA by NBA Commissioner David Stern, opposing teams and various executives throughout the season. The Magic served as the developer of the Amway Center, a massive facility that was designed to reflect the character of the community, meet the goals of the users and build on the legacy of sports and entertainment in Orlando.

The building’s exterior features a modern blend of glass and metal materials, along with ever-changing graphics via a monumental wall along one façade. A 180-foot tall tower serves as a beacon amid the downtown skyline. At 875,000 square feet, the new arena is almost triple the size of the old Amway Arena.

Also, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified building features a sustainable, environmentally-friendly design and unmatched technology, featuring 1,100 digital monitors, the tallest high-definition video board in an NBA venue and multiple premium amenities available to all patrons in the building.

Every level of ticket-buyer has access to: the Budweiser Baseline Bar and food court, Gentleman Jack Terrace, Jernigan's, Nutrilite Magic Fan Experience and Orlando on Demand, STUFF's Magic Castle kid's zone presented by CLUB WYNDHAM® and multiple indoor-outdoor spaces which celebrate Florida’s climate.

Magic fans obviously developed a quick love affair with the new facility, selling out all four preseason games, all 41 home regular-season games and three playoff games against the Atlanta Hawks. Over the last three seasons, the Magic have sold out all 120 games.

The Magic recently announced the continuation of its affordable ticket pricing options. In 2011-12 the Magic will have 2,500 seats priced $20 or less, 8,000 seats priced $40 or less and 9,000 seats priced at $50 or less. Also, for the second straight year there will be $5 game tickets, with more than 600 available per game while supplies last.

Orlando’s NBA franchise since 1989, the Magic continue to be leaders off the court and in the community as well.

Off the court, on an annual basis, the Magic give more than $2 million to the local community by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise, scholarships and grants.

The Magic’s community relations programs impact an estimated 75,000 kids each year, while a Magic staff-wide initiative provides more than 6,000 volunteer hours annually. This past year the Magic, along with its ``Champion of the Community’’ partners, also completed five community gyms at a cost of $25 million.

In addition, over the last 21 years nearly $16 million has been distributed to local non-profit community organizations via the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF-MFF), a McCormick Foundation Fund since 1994, which serves at-risk youth.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.